Natalie Ashkar

Natalie Ashkar is a 16-year old ocean-lover from Lebanon, who lives in Broummana, an elevated village 20 minutes away from the Mediterranean Sea. She is currently in 11th grade at Broummana High School, and is on the soccer, basketball, and track teams, as well as the Student Council and the Model United Nations team as a delegate, trainer, and dais member. As a PADI Advanced Open Water SCUBA Diver, Natalie is dedicated to protecting our oceans. She has researched the Ideonella Sakaiensis bacteria and its potential to digest plastic, in addition to modeling how greenhouse gas emissions can be reduced by using electrochromic windows. 

As head of the “I Serve” Club at school, she has organized over 6 beach cleanups at Ramlet Al Bayda – Beirut’s most polluted public beach. She notes that the most bizarre finds at these cleanups have been a cooking pot, a computer motherboard, and a toilet seat!  Last year, she went on a National Geographic Student Expedition to Costa Rica where she volunteered at Equipo Tora Carey to tag sea turtles (her favorite animal) and log endangered parrots’ migration patterns. For the past 2 years, she has been participating in the Trust for Sustainable Living International Debates in Seychelles and British Columbia, where she has had the chance to debate plans to achieve SDGs 14 and 15 respectively, as well as meet passionate young delegates, leaders of climate strikes, environmental activists, and head of the Canadian Green Party Elizabeth May.     

Like Dr. Jane Goodall, Natalie has hope for the future of our planet because of these 5 reasons: technology, the resilience of nature, the power of social media, human intellect, and finally, the youth.